Square Peg in a Round Hole

RE: The Great Migration – How Many Are Leaving The Hobby?

Dan Bearss put up an article on BoLS yesterday called The Great Migration – How Many Are Leaving The Hobby? It’s a short article where he talks about what people have said to him regarding them leaving 40K for other game systems. Now, I’m not one to discredit someone’s opinion. If you feel a certain way about something then that’s how you feel, period. However, I think there’s more to it.

Time Required to Play a Game

One of the common themes that was mentioned is the time required to play the game. It’s safe to say that 40K is not a game you throw down in 30 minutes. The thing is, it never has been. Games of 40K are far shorter now than they were in the early editions. I remember when Kamui and Darkheart would play 40K when we were in high school and it would take them an entire weekend or more to complete a game. The table would be left setup for when they could resume and hope to complete the game. I’d say the fact you can knock out a game in a few hours now is a vast improvement!

My point, however, is not how long it takes to play the game but why you play the game. I see a game of 40K as an experience and not a game. I spend countless hours building models and painting them, which I thoroughly enjoy, and a game of 40K is my chance to showcase my hard work. I get to put down my little men and for a few hours to create a story and forgot the real world. My reward is seeing the game, the world, come to life for a little while as I step inside it and get lost, so what does a few hours matter?

The game of Warhammer 40K has a depth with its fluff and history that few games can come close to matching. People like to complain about the cost of the rule books but how many other tabletop miniature games give you 200+ pages of story to go with your rules, or the 50+ pages of back-story for your army? It’s meant to be an experience, each and every game.

That being said, if life has deemed you don’t’ have hours to commit to playing a game of 40K then what can you do but find a game you enjoy which plays faster? One can’t argue with life!

Broken/Unbalanced Rules

Another mention was made about the rules, how they are always broken and GW is chasing its tail to fix issues and in turn creating new ones. Pretty much everything I said above about 40K being an experience and not just a game is applicable here. Just because things are not in perfect sync and balance does not mean it’s not fun to play. Having fun playing a game does not require perfect balance and a flawless ruleset. If you’re looking at 40K as a game for competitive play then you should reconsider. There are better games for a competitive environment. If you want a game to play that has thematic rules and unfolds into some amazing moments that you’ll tell your friends about for years to come then 40K is the right game.

In other articles here I have also talked about this in terms of finding the right people to play. If you’re a more casual player and are playing against competitive players then it’s not going to be the experience you want. As with any game, you need to find like-minded people to play the game with. When you find other players who share you views then issues within the game itself disappear and you get to just enjoy the experience.

The Cost

Lastly, money was mentioned and that it’s prohibitively expensive to stay up with the game. Almost all my armies are cobbled together off eBay and buying stuff off friends. I buy new kits to fill in the gaps but the bulk of my army is bought cheap.

I admit the game is not cheap to get into if you’re buying new and that buy-in can be a deterrent to new players. However, once you’ve established your army there’s few little you need to do. Plus, there are various ways to save money.

Every few years you need a new codex, a rulebook, but that’s it. You don’t have to own every unit in a codex and have every possible variation of everything.

New units are released occasionally, and now we have dataslates, formations, etc., but you do not need to own everything. I honestly spend maybe $200 a year on 40K. I’d call that damn cheap for any hobby, not just wargaming.


I love 40K but I’m by no means an ignorant fanboy. I also have issues with GW and the game but I feel the game gets crapped on a lot for the wrong reasons though. Most of what I hear isn’t really about the game but ultimately that the game just isn’t for those people and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I’m not a fan of Raggea music, never have been, but that doesn’t mean it’s terrible music, it’s just not for me.

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